An aerial view of the Texas City port before the 1947 Texas City Disaster.
Texas City is located on the Texas Gulf Coast, in Galveston County. It lies on the southwestern shore of Galveston Bay, just off the Gulf of Mexico. The city is positioned about 14 miles north of the city of Galveston and 40 miles south of Houston.
The area was first settled by cattle ranchers, fruit growers and fishermen in the 1830's and was incorporated as a city in 1911. The city founders saw the location's potential as a shipping port and made efforts to develop Texas City as a shipping hub for crops and goods both by rail and by sea. Dredging began in the 1890's, and the city became a deep-water port with rail service running down to the docks that line the southeastern edge of town, where the city meets Galveston Bay.
Texas City experienced tremendous growth during the 1940s, largely due to the expansion of its chemical and petroleum industries during World War II. The 1940 census listed Texas City's population at 5,687, but by 1947 it had reached about 16,000. At that time, the city was home to two chemical plants, three large oil refineries, a tin smelter and oil tank farms. These industries offered plenty of jobs at relatively high wages, which attracted many new residents to the area.
An aerial view of the refinery facilities and the storage tank farm in Texas City before the 1947 Disaster. The smoke stack and power house is also visible on the far left.
A view of part of the business district in Texas City before the 1947 Texas City Disaster.